Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Injury 101

Happy belated labor day!  Hope you enjoyed your day off.  Mine was filled with another ER adventure for more stitches with my same son.  With that and also talking with a friend about her long term injuries I thought that would be a good topic for everyone.  Injuries will come to us or our children at some point in time.  So lets go over some self-care methods.
When an injury occurs you first need to asses the situation.  If medical attention is needed.  If your unsure it's always better to get checked out.  But here are some indicators you need a doctor:
  • Can't bear any weight on your injured leg
  • Can't walk more than four steps without significant pain
  • Have numbness in any part of the injured area
  • See redness or red streaks spreading out from the injury
  • Have injured the same muscles in the past
  • Aren't sure about how severe your injury is
If you think the injury does not needed immediate assistance the first rule is baby it.  An injury will never get better if you don't give it TIME and SPACE.  Baby it for a few days then just take it easy on it.  Then build up to regular use, then mild exercise and so forth.  You can cause more damage than the initial injury if you jump into activity and exercise too soon.
Remember your not bed ridden, in many cases you can still exercise and continue your day-to-day activities, but just avoid the injury.  If though it is a leg injury such as a hamstring muscle then it becomes harder to do the day-to-day or exercise.

Also common with hamstring injuries is full or partial muscle tear.  But good news, according to the Mayo Clinic it is rare that surgery is needed to repair the torn hamstring muscle.  A more complicated tear like rotator cuff is a different story, this often results in surgery.

Ice is another self-care method.  Ice helps reduce the swelling, but be careful here.  If you use an ice pack put a light towel on your skin first then layer the ice.  We don't want frost bite or acute skin injuries to add to the list.  Also swelling helps tell you to baby the injury, that something is wrong.  So if you take that away don't go bounding to activity.  Take it easy.  Another way to ice an injury is to freeze water in a small 6 oz (ish) paper Dixie cup.  Rip off the top edge and ice in circular motions over the injury and surrounding areas.  This is how Physical Therapist do it. Once the ice goes down, peel off more cup and keep going.  Don't focus on one area too much keep moving around.  And when the ice is about gone your done.
Here is the one I use. Can be bought here, or at health food and supplement stores.  But others should work as well. 

If its a reoccurring or long term injury try supplementing with Glutamine.  Remember all those essential amino acids we talked about?  Glutamine is one of those and used by the body mainly for recovery.  So when you have chronic illness, surgery or long term injury try supplementing to aid and speed recovery.

Lastly don't forget to rehabilitate (after it's better).  You want to keep your full rang of motion, which is gone after recovery, and rebuild strength. You don't necessarily have to go to a physical therapist to do so its something that can be done on your own as long as your consistent with it.  We will hit more of rehab next month.

If you've babied it, iced, Advil, given it time, rehabilitated and still have problems then go see a doctor.   It may be worse than you've thought, but hopefully you can just take it easy and bounce back soon.

p.s. For stitches, they are needed typically if the wound skin does not go back together.  For example if there is a big deep gaping hole.  If you are far away from help (hiking etc.) then use a butterfly bandage. (always have a first-aid kit) They are made to help bring the skin closer together as stitches would.  But always seek medical attention as needed and as available.


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